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European Union president publishes his Japanese-style poems

16 April 2010 [14:44] - TODAY.AZ
Herman Van Rompuy, the European Union president, on Thursday published a volume of his Japanese-style haiku poems while gnomically declaring himself to be a "politician-haiku poet rather than a haiku poet-politician".

A relative unknown when he served as Belgium's prime minister for just 10 months before becoming EU president, Mr Van Rompuy has become internationally renowned not for his political achievements but for his haiku, a 17-syllable form of poetry originating in Japan.

Those looking for any insights into Mr Van Rompuy's political plans will be disappointed by his poetry and its mystical strain.

Mr Van Rompuy, 62, presents his haiku as a way of striving away "from the sophistication, attention seeking and glitter" of a political life in the limelight and horse-trading in Brussels corridors.

"A haiku poet, in politics, cannot be extravagant, nor super-vain, nor extremist," he said at Thursday's book launch.

His book, simply titled "Haiku", brings together 48 of his verses, following the rigid five, seven, five syllable structure, that reflect on the natural world and members of his close family.

The poems, with a print run of 2,500 copies, are published in the original Flemish-Dutch and translated into English, French, German and Latin, Europe's "lingua franca for so many centuries".

Nobutake Odano, Japan's ambassador to the EU, would not comment on the literary merits of Mr Van Rompuy's haiku.

"He feels that he does not have to worry about the reaction of readers. He wants to express ideas in his own way," he said.

To honour Mr Van Rompuy, the Japanese foreign affairs ministry has launched a haiku competition, the winning poem will be read out by its author at an EU-Japan summit in Tokyo next week.


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